I watched you sleep that first night in a plastic crib next to my bed. I couldn’t reach you with my new favourite scar still recovering from your arrival. The midwife, Hazel, “walked” you over to me, she said she loved it when the babies were still new enough that their legs stiffened instead of folding up. She handed you over and I held you close all night long. Your long legs filled the newborn babygrows and your beautiful orange fuzzy head wasn’t going to cope with the first size hats!
As you grew so did my love. You outgrew the crib and slowly but surely outgrew the cot, before I knew it you were at school and then secondary. That was when I noticed. You weren’t as happy, you lost confidence, you seemed unsettled in your own skin. I tried to help, to offer an ear and to try and relate but you knocked me back. You didn’t want me to relate, didn’t want my empathy and you pulled away.
I was saddened when your peer supporter got in touch. I wanted to be the person you relied upon and I felt that I failed you. I didn’t, you told me as much. You wanted me to know but didn’t know how. Having a buffer helped you to communicate with me and made some breathing space for you.
My heart broke when I saw the red lines from where you cut and smashed when we realised that you were suicidal. I couldn’t help you, this part of your journey you did alone. It was almost a relief when you finally admitted what was going on. You were my son, no more the hormonal girl of yesterday but my son.
I have never been more humbled than by your open and honest expression that day. I thought I was losing my child, I was terrified that you were following my own dark path of depression and I didn’t know how to help you there, I’m barely helping myself over 20 years later!
For the last two years I have watched you transform. The last summer holidays you were so happy, so free spirited and filled with this bristling energy which was such a joy to watch. I felt awful sending you back to school, truly. Watching you make the decision that your education was worth more than your wellbeing almost broke me. I would have done anything to stop you retreating back inside the shell of your female persona but your adamance demonstrated, yet again, that this journey was your own and I was just a rather useful passanger.
The day we legally changed your name was just awesome. I could see the calming effect it had on you and the pride you took seeing your name in print. I know, I know, I had to have my meddling way with name order but (and don’t tell your dad this) I was never as keen on your birth name as he was. It was my choice to add that middle name and, being mum, I wanted to be able to keep that bit of you. I will own it. I choose your name because I wanted you to know that there was no ceiling upon your life – you can go as far and as fast as you possibly may, I want that for you, to know that it is okay to actually stop and make a life wherever you think is best and that I will continue to love and support you no matter what.
I made a promise to you, to the baby that swam in my belly all those long years ago, it went like this:
Baby, I don’t know whether you are a girl or a boy but I already know that I love you more than I ever thought possible. I will fight for you until the end. I will stand in front of you to prevent you from harm, I will stand behind you and push you when needed and I will stand beside you always. I love you, Baby. If that is all I can offer you then I hope it is still enough.
That has never changed, it could never change. You are my baby, you’ve always been my baby, you will always be my baby.
I am so completely proud of you. It is my honour to have you call me mum.